Bill Michalsky | Stratford Court
|Proposed location of the 1000-foot Special Events Train Platform taken from a residence on the south side of the lagoon. The
southern end of the platform, which will be located on top of the new trestle bridge, would be near or over the lagoon, depending on the tide. Photo Nancy Fisher. Click to enlarge.
The San Dieguito Double Track and Fairgrounds Platform Committee (SDDT), was formed in February by the City Council to ensure that Del Mar’s concerns with SANDAG’s San Dieguito Double Track and Fairgrounds Platform project are adequately disclosed, understood, assessed, and mitigated to the extent possible. Since then the SDDT has met regularly with project teams from SANDAG and NCTD , with Council liaisons, and with other stakeholders to understand what may work best for Del Mar’s impacted residents.
The $110M rail project, currently funded through engineering and environmental review, but not through final design or construction, has three main components. 1) It will replace the 96-year-old wooden trestle bridge located near the fairgrounds with a new bridge designed to meet federal requirements for avoiding floods that could damage the bridge or tracks. 2) It will add 1.1 miles of double tracking from the Solana Beach station to Jimmy Durante Boulevard, which according to SANDAG will “eliminate a significant bottleneck between Solana Beach and Del Mar” and “will help reduce the cascading effects of train delays in the LOSSAN corridor.” And 3), it will add a special events train platform adjacent to the Fairgrounds, which will allow select passenger trains to directly serve seasonal events including the growing Del Mar horserace season and the San Diego County Fair.
After several months of study, SDDT has offered Council the following suggestions for each of the three components of the project.
Replacement of the Trestle Bridge
The committee accepts that the bridge, nearly 100 years old, needs to be replaced and raised to meet federal flood requirements, which will also improve river flow. However, because the new design will lengthen the current span and raise it by as much as ten feet, the height of the tracks in the residential area (28th to 21st Streets) would also be raised and could lead to increased light, noise, vibration, and invasion of privacy. The SDDT therefore proposes that SANDAG develop an aesthetically pleasing bridge design built to as low an elevation as possible.
Additional Double Tracking
The committee accepts SANDAG’s assertion that the corridor is being double tracked throughout San Diego County for efficiency and capacity but wants to reduce the impact on adjacent residents as much as possible. The SDDT therefore suggests that the new alignment, as well as the new bridge, be moved east of the current rail tracks. This proposed alignment would also allow for suggested visual mitigation with vegetation on the existing rail bed.
Special Events Train Platform
The proposed Fairgrounds Platform is of most concern to the committee. Unlike the new bridge and double tracking which could be considered upgrades to the current system, the platform is an entirely new feature. At 1000 feet in length and just over 100 yards on its southernmost end from existing residences, it will introduce some degree of noise and light where none currently exists - including the sound of bells and horns that are rarely heard in this area. The SDDT therefore proposes that the platform be reduced in length to 750 feet or less, which would still service the vast majority of passenger trains, and be moved as far north as possible to reduce the impact on the lagoon, residents, and businesses.
Future meetings, which are open to the public, will include updated San Dieguito Double Track and Fairgrounds Platform and Fairgrounds Platform presentations from SANDAG.